July 09, 2007
By Deborah Newell Tornello
It is time for Congress to break ground on what will certainly be an extraordinarily difficult but necessary undertaking. They must begin right away; they must ignore the partisan cries of those who would downplay the very serious crimes about which a significant portion of the American people are, and have long been, justly outraged.
We don't put accused criminals on trial for the purpose of emotional satisfaction--we do it because it's part of due process under the law: their due process, and the state's due process. If during the course of the trial, evidence is presented that exonerates the accused, or if, at the conclusion of said trial, a jury finds the accused to be innocent, the defendant goes free, without punishment. And if the verdict is guilty, he or she receives punishment as prescribed by the law.
We do this for embezzlers and drug peddlers; bank robbers and con-men; child molesters and rapists and murderers. We do not stop in our tracks and say, "This will cost too much--let's not even ask the questions." No. We may enter into plea-bargains that lower the charges and thus reduce the punishment, but we don't pooh-pooh the alleged crime before even exploring its severity and the quality and quantity of the evidence available to prove that the accused is, indeed, guilty, saying it would be too expensive, too time-consuming, and too deleterious to the state's morale to even try.
Good God, people, America has not come to this, has She?
The law is the law. Isn't it? And crimes are crimes, aren't they? Because insofar as the law is concerned, there are plenty of crimes on the table before us.
- The Bush Administration lied the country into war with a sovereign nation that did us no harm and posed no imminent threat, which crime has resulted in the following:
- 3,600+ American soldiers are dead
- Tens of thousands of soldiers are wounded--suffering lost limbs, lost eyesight, broken souls, shattered lives, and broken marriages and families, and
- Scores of thousands--possibly into the six figures--of innocent Iraqi civilians are also dead--men, women, and children. Families no different from yours or mine, but who had the bad fortune to be situated above the oil and beneath the bombs.
Consider, further, the following:
- Private corporations, many if not most of which are friends and on-the-record benefactors of the President and Vice President (with one notable example being the VP's ex-employer) continue to profit from all this, to the tune of countless billions of our tax dollars, with vast portions of military work--duties once carried out by military personnel, from intelligence gathering to base-building to meal preparation to interrogation and on and on--now privatized and operating in the murky area some three nanometers on the other side of accountability, the FOIA, and open books. We'll never know how much of our money has evaporated courtesy of these gray clouds, and that's exactly the way the cronies and their obfuscating puppetry intended it.
- Those gentlemen who hold the two highest public offices in the land are, and have been, subverting the law and attempting to destroy the Constitution at every turn. Examples of this include torturing prisoners and denying them due process in violation of international law; hiding thousands and thousands of official records through illegal private communications (the famous "lost" emails); spying on Americans in America--ordinary Americans accused of nothing; holding secret meetings about energy policy (holding secret meetings about everything, in fact); demonizing, smearing, and/or firing critics, and so on, ad infinitum.
And beyond that, there is even more.
It doesn't matter how much it costs, or how long it takes, or how painful it might be to watch for some, or how inconveniently timed this is (as though that were not carefully planned, too).
If this is indeed a nation of laws, not men, we must demand that our representatives in Congress follow those laws and begin proceedings to impeach--and, if the evidence discovered and uncovered should call for it soon enough, remove from office--the President and Vice President of this great nation, that it may once again be a great nation.
July 9, 2007 | Permalink
As you are concerned with breaches of the Constitution as crimes, I am quite sure you would be willing to prosecute all members of Congress who have ever voted for any form of an assault weapon ban, right?
Posted by: Jared McLaughlin | Jul 9, 2007 1:17:59 AM
I find this politically moronic. Impeaching the President of the United States has political, legal, cultural, and moral implications and ramifications than convicting some run of the mill criminal.
There are so many structurally different things between the two that the comparison is beyond silly.
Here's one of the most salient differences: the president wouldn't face a jury of his peers, he'll face Congress and more importantly he'll face the Senate.
Are you honestly arguing that you could ever conceivably get 17 Republican votes to convict the President? The answer of course is no and if we know we can't convict the President then it behooves not to go down that route.
I know the Republicans did with Clinton but we are better than that.
Posted by: Joseph | Jul 9, 2007 1:23:33 AM
Litbrit, the voices calling for impeachment are just as partisan as those excusing Bush and Cheney. An impeachment isn't an ordinary trial. It's a major upheaval that should be reserved for only the clearest cases of criminal conduct. Lying to America isn't against the law. It's an evil, but not one open to impeachment. The other things you mention aren't clear examples of crimes either. For better or worse (probably better), our system insulates our elected officials from removal for political reasons. As bad as they are, we can't remove Bush and Cheney by impeachment.
Posted by: Sanpete | Jul 9, 2007 1:47:16 AM
Josepth, Sorry but your complaint of 'beyond silly' is 'beyond silly' itself. You are saying that traitorous acts (and make no mistake there have been traitorous acts) should just be ignored because of a perceived lack of votes. The crimes of these thugs needs to be brought to the light of day. If that happens in a trial setting people might actually wake up, and there will be such outrage in this country that no Senator desirous of being re-elected would dare stand against it. And even if they did refuse to vote to throw him out of office, it would be clear to all observers what really went on, just as with the OJ trial.
To say that "the Republicans did with Clinton" is to equate a dysfunctional man's private sexcapades with this systematic attempt to destroy our democracy. And if you don't see that that is really what has been going on, you're just not paying attention.
Posted by: Chris K | Jul 9, 2007 1:56:58 AM
Impeaching the President of the United States has political, legal, cultural, and moral implications and ramifications than convicting some run of the mill criminal.
Convoluted syntax notwithstanding, I believe you're saying the various effects wrought by impeachment are different from those resulting from the conviction of a common criminal (and I'm assuming, hopefully, that you meant common in the sense of a person who carried out more commonplace crimes, not in the sense of lesser or peasant, since the law does not distinguish between classes). And I agree--the ramifications would be different. The crimes themselves--crimes which a significant portion of the American public believe the president and vice president perpetrated--are different too: they are more serious by several orders of magnitude.
the president wouldn't face a jury of his peers, he'll face Congress and more importantly he'll face the Senate.
Which is exactly as it is supposed to be. It would be impossible to round up a jury of American presidents. Surely you're not suggesting twelve Yale graduates? Or billionaire Texan sixty-somethings?
Are you honestly arguing that you could ever conceivably get 17 Republican votes to convict the President?
I did not state that. I don't know how each congressman would vote once all the evidence was presented, though admittedly, I have a fairly good idea how some would vote based on the evidence already made public.
The answer of course is no
How do you know this when no evidence has been formally presented as of yet?
if we know we can't convict the President then it behooves not to go down that route.
We don't know that. You think that; pundits say that; bookmakers place odds on that. But as for actual knowing, we only know there is plenty of evidence of high crimes before us, and I submit that this meets the threshold for initiating the appropriate due process in order to determine yea or nay on impeachment and removal, respectively.
Posted by: litbrit | Jul 9, 2007 2:10:16 AM
Look, the Republicans are in almost comical disarray, discouraged and depressed. Do you think anything short of a largescale terrorist attack would be more likely to energize their base and start the donations flowing than impeachment proceedings?
Posted by: Glenn | Jul 9, 2007 2:24:37 AM
Do you think anything short of a largescale terrorist attack would be more likely to energize their base and start the donations flowing than impeachment proceedings?
Actually, no, because Bush's base isn't energized. They loathe him. Impeachment might not change that. The only way we'll get an idea is if we start discussing it as an option, like rational human beings. The refusal to even consider impeachment is, itself, fairly irrational and is driven by fear.
Personally, I think if we really want to shift the Overton Window, we should be talking about handing Bush and Cheney over to the Hague to have them tried for war crimes. Impeachment can then be presented as just normal, everyday housekeeping to clamp down on an out-of-control criminal executive.
Posted by: Tyro | Jul 9, 2007 2:35:08 AM
How is impeachment not political suicide, or at least too great risk? Think there are shennanigans above and beyond what we already know about? Fine. Congress can investigate, hold hearings. If they find something solid that meets the unforetunately vague definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors" then by all means begin impeachment proceedings. But to use an impeachment to uncover wrongdoings is totally backwards. The minute you start the whole administration goes into lockdown mode, you charge the Republican base and a fair amount of the electorate who are content to see Bush's policies end now but have him go at the end of his term.
It's too risky to base a hyper-partisan political process on "hey, maybe you're guilty of a crime, maybe you're not." It didn't do wonders for the Republican's poll numbers when they tried it on Clinton (his job approval was somewhere in the upper 60s). It wouldn't help the Democrats now.
Posted by: Corey | Jul 9, 2007 3:19:39 AM
Hmmm. Where to begin?
Take your right-wing revisionism of the Constitution and shove it up your lying Republican ass.
You would turn a blind eye to the Bush Junta's crimes simply because it might -- MIGHT -- be politically expedient. That shows an appalling lack of morality and ethics. Are you SURE you're a Democrat?
The GOP's base is outnumbered by Democrats, Independents, and other Republicans who are fed-up with Bush and Cheney; uniting that base is no threat. And even if it was a threat, we should do what's right regardless of the risks. Impeachment is the right thing to do.
I would LOVE to see Bush and Cheney tried for crimes against humanity, but the American people would never hand over a president and vice president to a foreign court. I think they'd rather the two men be handled "in-house."
Posted by: semidi | Jul 9, 2007 6:49:18 AM
litbrit - Wow, what are you 19 years old? Give it a couple years and that boundless idealism and optimism will subside. Then you can contribute to a realistic political discussion.
In the meantime, the "Good God, people, American has not come to this, has She?" schtick is fine. Just put a label on it or something, like "Warning, idealistic teen angst ahead."
Posted by: mike | Jul 9, 2007 8:34:33 AM
Okay, some of you are clearly too young to remember back 10 years. No, this isn't political suicide. A Party did this 10 years ago with only 26% of the population behind them, and they didn't suffer noticeably for it at all. We now have half the country behind us, and half the rest that aren't hate Bush anyway. It's kind of hard to pretend that this would nuke the Democratic party out of existence with such a recent precedent. I have to assume you all are just the typical Democratic cowards incapable of pulling the trigger. You don't WANT impeachment, because it's hard and your relatives might say mean things about you. You're not thinking about your country or what's best for it at all.
Also, we're not ahead in donations because the Republican numbers suck, we're ahead because ours are truly impressive. Glen,, Bush isn't on the ballot next year. You're a god damned fool if you think Republicans won't learn to love whoever the eventually nominee is just NOT being Bush, as much as they dislike republicans over immigration; they DESPISE democrats because we don't hate brown and/or gay people. You're in denial, because you're meek and weak. You don't have the stomach for a fight, and you should just say so instead of pretending the other side doesn't want one. They always want one.
Posted by: soullite | Jul 9, 2007 8:44:56 AM
Assumptions, assumptions. The question still stands that if we're so interested in pursuing those that are dangerous to the republic, why start or stop with the president? Or is this just politically motivated?
Posted by: Jared McLaughlin | Jul 9, 2007 8:47:36 AM
Mike, I'd suggest you go fuck yourself. You're a god damn scumbag who hasn't the balls to say what they really mean. So instead you pull this bullshit, "I'm a big man who should be taken seriously, and the poster is a little girl who gets the vapors" schtick. I'm fairly sure the poster can take care of themselves, but you're a disgusting little piggy, aren't you? And that shouldn't go unmentioned by anyone.
Posted by: soullite | Jul 9, 2007 8:49:37 AM
Jared, yeah, because if they remove Bush and Cheney, Semidi becomes the worlds new overlord. Now bow to yer evil librul masters.
Posted by: soullite | Jul 9, 2007 8:51:23 AM
Semidi: Great points all around but regarding your last comment addressed to Tyro.
"I would LOVE to see Bush and Cheney tried for crimes against humanity, but the American people would never hand over a president and vice president to a foreign court. I think they'd rather the two men be handled "in-house.""
I believe that his end-goal is to handle Bush/Cheney "in-house." Here is his point, as I interpret it: Perhaps the idea of impeaching Bush is too extreme for some. To make it more palatable, the meme of trying Bush/Cheney for war crimes in the Hague could be passed around. As such, the window of what is acceptable will have shifted pushing impeachment closer to the center of ideas.
Posted by: Jason | Jul 9, 2007 8:53:31 AM
You can't take the politics out of politics. It's a game played to win. It's a game played with weird rules, and it behooves us to understand that. In this case, the rules hold that if you can't get 67 votes, you lose.
Why should we play a game that requires us to put our fate in the hands of the Fraud Caucus, and counts on them, for the first time in their history, to break from Bush on substantive grounds? It's setting yourself up to fail.
I don't disagree that Bush (and definitely Cheney) have committed crimes. The problem is that the bar for impeachment is much higher - it's not merely crimes, but crimes that 1/3 of the Republican party will acknowledge as crimes. I see no reason to think they will- they have failed to turn on Bush over the Iraq War, even as the polling goes to hell and the substantive case is indisputable, but we think they'd vote to impeach? That makes no sense to me.
Politics is a game with underlying structures. Those structures make impeachment nearly impossible. I want to win, so I don't want to impeach.
Posted by: DivGuy | Jul 9, 2007 8:57:32 AM
I think it's good, though, that everyone's talking about impeachment. It's definitely good that large chunks of the populace think impeachment would be a good idea.
What the Democrats need to do, to use this situation, is to keep the pressure on with investigations. Hold Sara Taylor in contempt, get White House people in front of Congressional committees. Bring in Patrick Fitzgerald and find out what he knows about Cheney's role in the leaks. Stage a showdown with hte VP office over his records or getting his staff to testify or any of the innumerable illegal things he's done.
All this time, it's good to have impeachment in your hand as a card to play, as a threat. But we can't play it until we're confident we'd win. Until that time - I don't know how we could be confident in the Fraud Caucus at the moment - it's about aggressive investigation, bringing the crimes of the President and Vice President to light, and using them to win in November.
Posted by: DivGuy | Jul 9, 2007 9:05:22 AM
Congress can investigate, hold hearings. If they find something solid that meets the unforetunately vague definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors" then by all means begin impeachment proceedings.
You are the one who has it backwards. An Impeachment Inquiry is an investigation with more force than normal congressional oversight.
litbrit - Wow, what are you 19 years old?
Litbrit is the adult. Your apparent belief that being cynical and complacent are 'adult' shows just how adolescent your view is. Impeachment is there in the constitution for a reason. If you don't think there's a case, argue that (if you can).
Posted by: jonnybutter | Jul 9, 2007 9:06:28 AM
soullite - sorry I made fun of your girlfriend. I tried not to be too mean about it. I didn't even swear or spout off any vulgar phrases. (Thanks for joining that party!) It's just frustrating to read a blog like this because you're fond of the proprietor's insight and analysis and then be subjected to some guest-blogger who's a bit wet behind the ears. I wrote better crap than this in my freshman year poli-sci class. That's all I was saying. Maybe she's a bit green for Ezra's blog, which is usually top shelf.
Posted by: mike | Jul 9, 2007 9:14:10 AM
it's good to have impeachment in your hand as a card to play, as a threat. But we can't play it until we're confident we'd win.
Respectfully disagree. The important part of an Impeachment proceeding is the inquiry part. There's nothing wrong with doing the investigation and having the clock run out (techinically, you can still impeach after the target leaves office), nor even with going to trial and losing - make GOP senators vote against it once you've uncovered more stinking crap, which surely exsists. Democrats need to stop reacting and start acting. You have to be aggressive with a regime like this, as with any other bully. No reason to do it clumsily or blindly, but still do it.
Posted by: jonnybutter | Jul 9, 2007 9:15:56 AM
There's nothing wrong with doing the investigation and having the clock run out (techinically, you can still impeach after the target leaves office), nor even with going to trial and losing - make GOP senators vote against it once you've uncovered more stinking crap, which surely exsists.
We're agreed that the GOP isn't going to impeach, right?
Then what's the difference between losing at impeachment and continuing pressure in investigations? We have to weight a certain amount of extra legal leverage - which the administration will surely not respect - against the politics of losing. I would argue that losing is the thing we must avoid - the political system has always rewarded winners, and it won't be any different this time. Why would we set up a massive political proceeding that we know would fail?
I want the Democrats to act, too. But I want them to act with a plan, knowing exactly what they will do, and exactly how they will win. I see no such plan behind impeachment proceedings as you support them - it's just investigate willy-nilly, and hope. Hope is not a plan.
Posted by: DivGuy | Jul 9, 2007 9:23:41 AM
DivGuy, I have a whole lot of faith that they'll find something. I really doubt it'll take long either if they played hardball and kept issuing Inherent Contempt charges.
You all think you need to win on order for Impeachment to be successful. You're the same bunch that always thinks a win is better than a loss, but you're wrong. You don't think tactically. Impeachment is about forcing the Republican party to get ENTIRELY behind Bush. As fun as it is to see them jump ship, the most damage can be inflicted if they remain on board. Impeachment will ensure that they'll stand by him completely, through all the details that come out. It will also ensure that it'll be 10 years before independents even look at the Republican party again.
Haven't you ever read Othello? Some accusations don't have to be proven, they only have to made. People minds will do the rest.
Posted by: soullite | Jul 9, 2007 9:34:50 AM
I'll cut to the chase. You have no clue what they are talking about when it comes to legal proceedings, or more specifically criminal ones. Stick with political discussions, and not discussions of law. You make an assumption that must be made clear- yes, even for the common criminal the criminal justice system takes into account the efficiency of outcome. Your argument pressumes, incorrectly, to say it doesn't. SHow me where in the criminal justice system where one would go through the process of having a long drawn out trial without any penalty. What the hell do you think plea bargains among other tools are therefore. I really, really hate when people misuse the law for political arguments. If you want to do this for political reasons say so but don't pretend you are doing it to respect the law. If you respect the law, one of the issues would be whether or not there is a penalty or not. Here- the remedy under law- by the time you got to it- would have the effect of impeaching someone who wouldn't be in office at about the same time you got a verdict.
Posted by: akaison | Jul 9, 2007 9:42:40 AM
I don't even think I like Litbrit. To be honest, I've been a dick to so many people it's hard to keep track. My comments were about your words, she can fend for herself for all I care. I don't believe in leaving things unsaid.
You're clearly just being a passive-aggressive douche bag. You don't want impeachment, but you're too cowardly to open yourself up to ridicule so instead you post some bullshit statement. I don't know Litbrit, and in all likelihood neither do you. I don't know what life experiences she's had, and I don't know how old she is. To be quite frank, I don't really care. I know she has what it takes to put herself out there, and you don't. So tell us again how you're a big bad grown up man and she's just a silly little girl.
Posted by: soullite | Jul 9, 2007 9:43:51 AM
akai, your point is what? Because Litbrit doesn't understand how corrupt the justice system is, she's stupid? Most people think it works like she does, or they'd start demanding that it did pretty fast. It's most lawyers protecting corrupt traditions, and the media's overwhelming bias towards prosecutors, that prevents them from understanding how the justice system works. Hell, most of them think they really get a free phone call; when in most places you won't get any phone call at all.
Let's be honest here, arguing that the impeachment process should be as morally bankrupt as our justice system isn't an argument that'll go over well among liberals. Nor should it be.
Posted by: soullite | Jul 9, 2007 9:56:05 AM
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